Editor’s Note: As Citizen Journalists we make an effort to highlight the different experiences of people living in the Kentwood and Wyoming area. We teamed up with West Michigan Lutheran High School English students to focus on stories about individuals immigrating to the United States in search of a better life. The following story was written by one of those students giving their perspective of immigration.
by CJ Blanchard, West Michigan Lutheran High School
Afif Gaibi is the team leader for Oliver Products shipping and receiving department. I was able to interview him through my mom, who is a coworker of his. I am glad to have been able to sit down and talk with Afif because he shares many stories along with a good deal of knowledge. His life is quieter now, but in his younger years, it was far more dangerous than what most people in the states would experience.
As a teen, he lived in Kuwait. His father was from the Middle East while his mother was from India. This was crucial for their escape from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and also the Gulf War. They fled to India, where Afif went to the University of Bombay to study.
Before he came over to America to attend college, Afif traveled around the world, most notably England and Hong Kong. He was also able to land a job at MTV in Asia. Meanwhile his parents had other plans. They were not happy with him partying and having fun all the time, so they sent him off to America to learn. It was not hard for him to adapt to American culture because he had always watched American television growing up and learned English in his grade school.
He first landed in Atlanta in 1996. He lived there for a bit before traveling to Oregon and then finally, Michigan. In Michigan, he attended Davenport University after a long distance cousin was able to set him up with a scholarship. He majored in Science and earned a bachelor in electronics, both of which he has never used.
Afif has not stopped traveling and doesn’t plan to in the future. He believes knowledge is power, and that traveling has opened many doors for him, physically, mentally, and spiritually. “Everyone has the same direction, just different paths,” he says adding that without religion as the center of your life, you are lost.
Along with traveling and enlightening himself with religion and knowledge, he enjoys his favorite things, which are motorcycles, country music, and baseball. His advice to anyone who wants to travel like he does is pretty simple.
“You have to have it personally inside you. Be ready to learn and want to go and actually do it. Have a positive mentality and use others to inspire you, because traveling changes you, and your perspective, for the better,” he explains.